Tom Brady Doesn’t Need Sympathy, But Does Need One Thing He’s Currently Not Getting

Tom Brady is getting rid of the ball on pass plays faster than he ever has in his career.

But that’s not a positive trait, according to two opposing defensive coordinators. During Tampa Bay’s loss to Baltimore last Thursday, Amazon Prime analyst Kirk Herbstreit talked several times about how Brady was getting rid of the ball on passing downs faster than he ever has. Brady is holding the ball an average of 2.3 seconds per play.

The Ravens sacked Tom Brady three times in Week 8. (Getty Images)

“Right now, they can’t function if he doesn’t get rid of it,” one of the coordinators said. “Yeah, I heard that thing where they were talking about how fast he gets rid of the ball this year. But (Herbstreit) tried to make it sound like such a great thing. I was thinking too myself, ‘He’s afraid to get hit, so he’s just flinging it to the first open guy he sees.

“I know the defensive linemen get a little annoyed with that because they don’t get a chance to hit him, but he’s not dangerous, either.”

Tom Brady Needs Time In The Pocket

Brady is averaging only 6.7 yards per pass attempt this season. That’s the third-lowest figure of his career, the second-lowest since his second year in the league in 2002, and the worst since he averaged 6.6 yards per attempt in 2019. That was his final season in New England when numerous people interpreted his poor season as an indication he was no longer an effective passer.

In 2019, Brady lacked dependable receivers who could make him more functional with the quick-passing game. This year, the problem is slightly different. Brady has had Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and other effective targets on the outside but doesn’t have the time to let them get open downfield.

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“You saw how they wanted to play against Kansas City (on Oct. 2), short pass, short pass, short pass,” another defensive coordinator said. “They don’t have a good enough offensive line and they don’t have a good enough running game to keep the defense honest. Defenses aren’t even doing anything terribly elaborate. They just keep shrinking the field more and more.”

Both coordinators said that until Tampa Bay fixes the offensive line problem, this is going to continue to play out. Baltimore, for example, came into the Thursday night game with one of the worst pass defenses in the league.

‘Tom Doesn’t Need My Sympathy’

“It was like Brady was thinking he was facing the second coming of the Legion of Boom or something,” the first coordinator said, referring to the historic Seattle defense.

“Baltimore still isn’t very healthy and they looked great, but it wasn’t hard. The coverages were all super basic stuff. Brady still couldn’t take advantage of it,” the second coordinator said. “You just can’t run any really decent route right now if you only have 2.3 seconds to throw it. So the defense can either play really tight man or play the simplest zone you can imagice and they don’t have to worry about getting hurt.”

The situation has gotten to the point that one of the coordinators actually felt a little sad for Brady.

“Make sure you emphasize ‘a little,’” the coach said. “Tom doesn’t need my sympathy. He needs some time in the pocket.”

Written by Jason Cole

Jason Cole has covered or written about pro football since 1992. He is one of 49 selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and has served as a selector since 2013. Cole has worked for publications such as Bleacher Report, Yahoo! Sports, The Miami Herald, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, and started his career with the Peninsula Times-Tribune in Palo Alto. Cole’s five-year investigation of Reggie Bush and the University of Southern California resulted in Bush becoming the only player to ever relinquish his Heisman Trophy and USC losing its 2004 national championship.

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